This week’s Table Talk should hopefully inspire you to have a meal soon at Ritu Indian Soul Food in the Mission, and, if you want to help San Francisco’s unhoused population, please book a ticket to Farming Hope’s Fiesta fundraiser. I also have a tidbit for you on where to find a tasty Cubano and Sunday clambake.
Where to Find Some of San Francisco’s Best Indian Food (Thank Me Later)
Ritu Indian Soul Food
3111 24th St., San Francisco
Dinner served Tue–Thu, Sat–Sun 5–10pm, Fri 11am–10pm
Brunch Sat–Sun 11am–2:30pm
In a previous Table Talk piece, I mentioned the former DUM in the Mission recently rebranded to Ritu Indian Soul Food (ritu means “seasons”). Have you been yet? No? Anyone who even remotely likes Indian food will have strong, loving feelings for Mumbai native chef Rupam Bhagat’s flavorful cuisine that will make you feel like he’s cooking just for you. Guess what? He is. He has just one other person helping out in the kitchen while turning out such great dishes, many based on family recipes. Don’t want to choose? You also have the option of having the chef cook a four-course meal for your table at $40 each.
The extensive menu is shockingly affordable for how sophisticated the flavors and preparations are—nothing is over $17 at the moment. Start with his tandoori fried chicken ($14), flavorful thighs saturated in a sauce of ginger and garlic and the tang of tamarind (the flavors are inspired by the Indian-Chinese cuisine style that is popular in India). His creativity is apparent in the artichoke pakora ($10), which he marinates for extra flavor, and the fried quinoa side dish ($4), with curry leaves and chile, inspired by a State Bird Provisions topping on their chawan mushi. Crunch, crunch. And don’t miss a peek at the seasonal specials board (you may find things like zucchini blossom fritters). It’s worth noting how well gluten-free and vegan diners will eat here. There are plenty of options, from charred green beans to tandoori whole cauliflower (vegans, hold the yogurt).
But if you’re a carnivore, you won’t want to pass up the pork vindaloo ($16), the best I have had outside of Goa. Chef Rupam marinates the pork butt in a garlic paste, and the flavor is so deep and delicious with ginger, garlic, coriander, turmeric, and vinegar—it just pops. Wait until you bite into the potatoes. The recipe is from his friend’s mother from Goa (where the dish hails from but this pork and vinegar dish originally has Portuguese origins). Another favorite for me is his perfectly seasoned lamb seekh kebab ($13), with notes of crushed coriander seeds and mint. You should also try his famed biryani, and I am coming back for the steamed fish.
Ritu is a casual place, with bright colors and even brighter lights. It’s an easy place for a midweek meal, but the flavors are so good you could fool yourself and pretend you’re eating at one of SF’s high-end Indian restaurants. Just don’t be in a rush—things move a little slower here since everything is made to order, perfect for date night. The wine list covers a lot of bases, and there are a couple aperitifs and a white sangria, while three kinds of lassi and four kinds of sodas (like salted and spiced fresh lime) are also offered.